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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Story Contest (67): Theme - 1 Story 2 POVs - Submission & Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Apr 26, 2010.

    Short Story Contest 67
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "One Story - Two Points of View"​




    Open to all, newbies and established members alike. Please post your entries as replies to this post. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a seperate thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. Sadly, there is no prize on offer except pride. The winner may PM/VM me to request the theme of a subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Theme: "One Story - Two Points of View" (courtesy of member yellowm&M). The same story - told two ways. Over to you. And you.
    Suggested Wordlimit: 500 - 3000 words.
    Deadline for entries: May 10th 2010 10.00 am (UK local)


    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. As below, any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    The theme of the next contest will be "Hunter Turned Hunted" (jonathan hernandez13). Feel free to prepare an entry in advance for this contest, but do not submit an entry until instructed to do so.

    There is a maximum of 20 entries to any contest. If there are more than 20 entries to any one contest I will decide which are entered into voting based on adherence to the suggested word limit and relevance to the theme, not on a first-come-first served basis.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitamacy for the contest.

    Submissions may not have been previously posted on this site, nor may they be posted for review until voting has closed. Only one entry per contest please.

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding, colouring or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread. You may use visible noparse BB code to preserve style if you wish by placing [ noparse ] and [ /noparse ] (without the spaces) around the entire text.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please leave me a visitor message or PM me. Please do not clog up this, or any other thread, with your questions.
    Please note that only current members are eligible to win.

    Thanks and good luck.
     
  2. Clyde J.
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    Clyde J. New Member

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    Life Along The Sidewalk

    A man walked along a densely crowded sidewalk. He observed as strangers brushed shoulders with strangers, trying to keep their balance and maneuver in and out as if not to be pushed off the path and into traffic. Tall buildings hung overhead, peering down. Indifferent. He felt small in a place, a world, so large. What was his purpose? He wanted to stop, both feet and time, to ponder but the flow of the crowd forced him onward.

    A lady clutching two paper bags, each filled to the brim with groceries, walked hurriedly towards him. Her face showed no emotion; her thoughts far from the present. The bottom of one bag broke, letting its contents free. Cans rolled into the street, dashing for a quick escape. No one seemed to notice, or care, as they monotonously passed by. They were busy. He walked over to help. He had found his purpose.

    * * *

    A woman exited a market store through sliding glass doors to be greeted by the noise and smells of a downtown city. Each arm was occupied with a heavy bag of food. Maybe the irritated cashier had placed bricks in the bottom of each one. His customer-friendly smile vanished right after he had said, “That’ll be thirty-six fifty please.” Clink. She plopped two bags of coins on the counter, no paper in sight. He would have said, “No! This store doesn't need your money. Take your change elsewhere. This is the third time this week!” if he could have, but his boss would not have approved. So instead he tried to scream his thoughts through piercing eyes and exaggerated gestures while he counted. The woman only looked at him apologetically.

    She took a hard left out of the store, her neck was stretched so that she could peak her eyes over the groceries. She listened to car horns shout and tires squeal back in reply. They were the only conversations that took place along the sidewalk, and the only ones available for her to eavesdrop. These pieces of metal were more alive than the people surrounding her. She understood. The rich should not concern themselves with what was little and meaningless. That’s how they had achieved their status and were now people of importance who had places they needed to be. Right?

    Well so did the woman. Fifteen minutes. She picked up her pace but had to slow down after she bumped into a businessman in front of her. He swiftly turned around and looked to see what bold person might invade upon his personal space. Who would dare take time from his precious day? He sported a nicely tailored grey suit, clean cut, middle-aged, weary eyes, and a stone cold face. He looked her over, head to toe to head, let out an indignant huff after deciding she was not worth his time, and continued to walk.

    Suddenly the bag in her right arm felt lighter. She looked to see cans pouring into the gutter.
     
  3. rapidrain
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    rapidrain Member

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    As Graceful [711 words]

    He looked left and right and then nimbly darted over the road. Landing in the brush made a slight thrashing sound, but Jake was a professional and froze immediately. And waited. It was all about patience. Think, move and then wait. Wait patiently and keep your eyes open.

    The house showed no signs of life. No lights. Out here in the countryside the people were early to bed and early to rise. Good, just stay that way. Two o'clock in the night, just stay in bed and dream of your cows and chickens. Forget the jewels. Jake would take good care of them.

    Up above the porch he could see the window, open slightly, letting in the cool night air. And soon, letting Jake in. He went across the lawn and neared the porch.


    Louisa May could not sleep again. This time it wasn't her back. She lay in the darkness and with every turn, the bed squeaked like an angry bird. It had been a full day, with the Ladies Greenery Society taking up the whole afternoon, yet despite her weariness she was still awake.

    Where was Timmy? She had stood outside and hollered for him at sundown out the back door but he was nowhere to be seen. Well, fine. Then miss dinner. She just didn't understand men.

    Timmy was getting old, no doubt about it. Couldn't impress the lovelies any more; Mrs. Gadsen's bimbo had really made that clear last spring. Made the fur fly—mostly his fur. Now he spent all his time on long walks out by the river. And those trout probably put on a saucy dance just like that bimbo of Mrs. Gadsen.

    Men. Louise May didn't understand them at all. What good are the necklaces and rings when they come and go like gypsies?

    Timmy was getting to be more of a free-loader with every year.


    Jake adroitly climbed up to the top of the awning and silently opened his backpack. He took the tools out and slipped them into prepared straps sewn on his shirt. Like a professional. The hunting knife he held in his right hand. He had it all thought out. Grab the old lady's throat with the left and finish it with the right. All in one delicate movement Snatch the jewels and be out before 20 minutes had passed. He had orchestrated the whole thing.


    She saw the window move.

    Apparently the wind was picking up. Well, she didn't want mosquitoes and those horrible moths in the house, so she pushed aside the covers and teetered on the bedroom carpet. She needed screens on these windows but that kind of work was beyond her. And Timmy was no use at all. She put on the light and approached the window.


    Jake had his knife ready when the lights came on. With the other hand helping balance him on the edge of the awning he was ready to jump. One foot on the sill, carefully. Three metres below him bushes spread out. In case of a necessary retreat they would break his fall. He had prepared for that too. Just one large, wide step and he would be in the bedroom. There was movement just beyond the window and Jake made ready to pounce, like a cat.

    It fell upon his right arm and pierced his flesh with a dozen needles. He swung his arm and the object flew through the open window, screeching. He clawed the air with his hands as his foot came off the sill and his body fell head first into the rose bushes, landing with a dull crack and a thud. He was still for the rest of the night and longer.


    “Timmy. You naughty boy!” A shadow fell past the window behind her. The cat had rolled on the carpet, regained its footing and scampered away, down the stairs. After looking for a half hour Louisa May gave up. When he wants something he'll show up. That tomcat comes in to eat and play and then he's off again. A regular vagabond, but then men are all alike. She returned to her bed and before falling asleep, contemplated what she would do next the day. Perhaps some gardening.
     
  4. RedRaven
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    RedRaven Active Member

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    Birth [1257 words]

    It was nice and warm in here. He had been here for as long as he could remember and loved it more than anything. The warmth of this place spread through his entire body and the sounds from outside resonated inside his head, in a pleasant manner, as if they were transformed into birdsong. He was often lulled to sleep by those sounds, only hearing the outline of words spoken, and letting all meaning disappear.

    Lately it seemed as if his safe haven had shrunk. He thought he used to be able to swim around, but of that he wasn’t sure. Being here felt like an eternity, something with no beginning and no end. He didn’t enter here, he wasn’t left behind. He wasn’t here one moment, and the next he was. And not that he hadn’t been here before he was, he just came to realize it.
    So, he couldn’t remember if he had been able to swim once upon a time in this dark safe bolt hole deep in the ground, away from predators. Maybe he had been, maybe he hadn’t. It didn’t matter. He couldn’t anymore.

    He was stuck. He could hardly move, but still he felt like he had found his one true home. He would have called it paradise, if he had any notion of such a term.

    This place was alive. He hadn’t always known this, and yet this knowledge had always been inside him. He felt the room breathe, it had a heartbeat and a voice of its own. He often fell asleep listening to his place’s voice. It was the most angelic sound he had ever heard and being inside his sanctuary, he had come to know, love and despise a variety of sounds.

    He was rocked to sleep by his eternal shelter, when he suddenly felt the room close in on him. He cried out, in pain and shock. He found himself pinched and had trouble breathing. A few moments later the room went back to his previous state, leaving him gasping for breath and experiencing a brand new emotion. Fear. He was scared and confused by the strength and fierceness of this pathos, and above all, how it had found its way into his retreat.

    Again the room closed in on him, forcing the breath out of his longs and pushing him upwards. He was worried and terrified. What had he done to be cast out? The room kept urging him out and he couldn’t fight the upward travel, which on second thought seemed to go down.

    His body in need for air and his muscles sore of being in this tight place, he struggled to get out of this predicament. He struggled to get back to his haven, to the only world he knew, but it wouldn’t have him anymore. In a state of panic he struggled towards the other end. The end of the tunnel. Towards the light.

    This must be what dying was like. He was afraid and yet he took comfort in knowing this was the only way left.

    Something dragged him roughly out of the tunnel. All of a sudden his nerves were overcome with so many sensations all at once. His body tensed and he could only react in one way, feeling as awkward as everything else this strange world had to offer, and seemingly the only way in which he could protest. He cried, he wailed, he was as mad as hell.

    **

    The sun was too hot. The weatherman had promised scorching hot weather for today, with temperatures going through the roof. Abby felt every centigrade trickle down her blouse, in between her breasts and down her back. The weight of her bloated belly was pressing down on her tenfold.

    She was gasping for air, the short walk to the terrace, where she would meet her sister-in-law and best friend Sarah, tiring her beyond belief and causing her skin to gleam with sweat.

    Abby waved to the waiter and he was with her immediately, no doubt leaving other customers waiting a little bit longer. She relished in this pleasant consequence.
    This is the stuff never mentions in pregnancy books.

    She ordered sparkling water with a dash of lime and less than five minutes later her order was brought to her table. She loved being served on first, and better, none of the other customers dared to protest.

    She was late, but Sarah wasn’t here yet. She reached clumsily for her bag, the handles just out of reach, as she felt a sharp pang. She held her breath and all her muscles tensed. It subdued. Indigestion, probably. She shouldn’t have eaten that falafel the other night, but it had smelled and tasted like heaven.

    A helpful lady, seated at the table next to hers, handed Abby her bag. She smiled briefly and went on in search of the cell phone. Sarah would be stuck in traffic, but she still wanted to call, just in case. Better be safe than sorry. She spent an eternity going through everything she carried along with her, her cell phone mysteriously staying out of sight.

    As she finally managed to locate it and pulled it out of the abyss, she dialed the number of Sarah’s phone. Abby was listening as the phone rang a couple of times, when she all of a sudden was overcome by another sharp pang. In her surprise she dropped the phone, it travelling the lonely journey downward until it connected gravely with the concrete ground. She whimpered as the pang grew into a deepening all-overpowering pain.

    Not there, please not there.
    The phrase becoming a mantra-like stream in her mind.

    She knew she was being looked at, but tears started streaming over her cheeks, as she carefully placed her arms around her round belly. The pain was going again, leaving the shore of conscience wave by wave. She briefly wondered if her cell survived the wayward journey.

    Labor.
    She was having a baby. Now. Not five weeks from now, as the doctor had told her – lying SOB – but now. This very moment, her child, her son, wanted out and she was stuck at a café, waiting for her best friend, planning on having a few drinks – non-alcoholic for her – and indulging in girl talk. But no, she had to go in labor.

    Sarah had showed up in time, taking Abby to her car and driving her to the hospital, meanwhile trying to reach her brother to tell him the happy news. Abby was screaming in the backseat as another contraction found its way to her nerve center.

    The pain was all around her. The pain was inside her. She felt like being ripped open from the inside and meanwhile nurses were ushering her to push.

    Push goddammit.

    The doctor was hidden between her legs, as she forced the monster out into the harsh light of day, it meanwhile pulling all her insides out too. It was too soon, her son didn’t want to come out yet and he was holding on with every ounce of bravery in him. He was killing her in the process, shredding her into little bits.

    She cried, she screamed, she begged. Her husband next to her, holding her hand, looking as alarmed and frightened as Abby felt.

    She underwent the agony until the doctor spoke the magic words, the safe word, and all the pain subdued into a mere ache.
    She heard crying. She had never heard such a divine sound.

    ‘It’s a boy.’
     
  5. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    MAN’S BEST FRIEND (906 words)

    David Mitchell grimaced as another bolt of pain, emanating from his left shin, travelled through his body and shot into his brain. He removed the fingers of his left hand from the tender, grotesquely swollen area, and silently cursed his bad fortune. He was close to the point of total surrender. His body was now so stiff and weak from several days of immobility and starvation, that it was difficult for him to muster even the slightest optimism with regard to ever emerging alive from this ordeal. He reached forward and pushed his palms towards the small, makeshift fire that crackled a few feet ahead of him, thankful for the little heat that it gave off.

    He turned his head and looked across at Max, lying on his side just a few feet away, his ribcage now absurdly prominent under the thin layer of flesh on his emaciated body, as his shallow, rapid breathing caused it to rise and fall. David realised that his companion was slowly but surely dying, and resigned himself to the fact that he was irrevocably heading towards the same cruel fate. If only Max hadn’t decided that chasing a stray sheep near the top of a steep hill was a good idea, and if only David hadn’t made the fateful decision to run after him on slippery ground. Just maybe, under those circumstances, neither of them would have raced quite as close to the edge, and David wouldn’t have slipped at the crucial moment, sliding feet first down the hillside, tumbling head over heels, and losing virtually all of his belongings in the process. His sympathy for his canine friend was tempered by a deep resentment for the predicament that Max’s actions had caused.



    The chocolate-coloured Labrador briefly opened his tired eyes and scanned the grass-covered plateau upon which he and his master were now trapped. He no longer felt loved. The kind words and playful actions of a few days ago had steadily diminished, and he now felt disliked, almost despised, by the man who sat virtually within touching distance of him. He had no real concept of time, but he instinctively knew that a dangerously long period had lapsed since he had last tasted food. He had seen daylight come and go on several occasions, and was aware of the gradual weakening of his body, with its attendant pain. Why had his master been so reckless as to run so close to the place where the land had suddenly stopped? On some primitive level, Max had sensed the foolishness of following his friend by scurrying down the slope, but he was only doing what every canine instinct urged him to do. A dog was faithful to the end, after all.

    With great effort and no little discomfort, Max lifted his head a couple of inches off the cold, wet grass and sniffed the air. It was alive with a thousand different scents, yet all but one of them were hopelessly out of reach. The smell from his master was growing steadily stronger. It was the aroma of a body that was cannibalistically turning on itself, its surplus flesh being slowly consumed in order to keep itself alive. Max was vaguely aware of how the scent was causing him to salivate, and awakening deep hunger pangs in his shrunken stomach. His wolfish ancestral traits were rising to the surface, and without knowing why, he pushed with almost the last traces of energy that he possessed, and manoeuvred himself into a more upright, predatory position, his eyes turning towards his lifelong friend.



    David gazed into the distance, but had long since ceased to see the beauty of the scenery that surrounded him from his precarious and isolated vantage point. The snow-covered hilltops and the serene, reflective surface of the lake far below were merely a reminder of a beautiful world beyond this cruel prison that he occupied, and that he feared he would never escape from. He had no option but to remain in this place. Even in full health and at the peak of his physical powers, the task of liberating himself from this trap would be formidable, but in his current condition, it was nothing less than an impossibility.

    He knew what had to be done. His only tenuous chance of survival was to stay in this place and hope for the miracle of rescue. But to maximise that chance by giving himself a little extra time, he had to eat. David was no stranger to the consumption of a variety of animal meat, and in his despairing and confused mental state, he reasoned that the taste of dog cooked over an open flame would not be hugely different to all the others. Besides, Max would die here anyway in the days ahead, and probably suffer a slow and agonizing end, so in one way it could be construed as doing his faithful friend a favour. His mind reluctantly made up, he reached to his left without looking, and the palm of his hand settled on the smooth, cold surface of the small hunting knife that had been one of the few items that had survived the fall. He closed his eyes and wrapped his fingers around the handle, then his face contorted with pain as he felt the agony of sharp, desperate teeth sinking deeply and forcefully into the flesh on either side of his wrist…
     
  6. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Enemy Mind [2220 words]

    The advanced regiment marched on, following the scent trail left by the scouts. The warrior drones remained focused, fearless, and disciplined. For them there was no thought for the morrow, no worry or concern besides what was put in their heads by their general. For them there was only one need, to serve the colony.

    They left behind worker drones hastily constructing defenses. Some of them were building small forts out of mounds of dirt, some were building large lookout towers. Some were making traps, holes large enough for entire platoons to fall into. All the while the alert guards at the mouth of the hive maintained a vigil, for they didn't know when the next attack would come, but they were certain that it would.


    In orbit around Bellona 117 the seventh extrasolar task fleet decelerated and put itself in a low circular orbit around the hostile planet.

    "The bugs have no Geneva conventions, they have no rules of engagement. They will show no mercy, they have no diplomacy. Exterminate with extreme prejudice any and all bugs. Thus is not genocide, this is extermination." The Company First Sergeant bellowed loudly. Nothing like a few words of encouragement before a slaughter.

    The squad bay was full of troopers waiting to make a drop on the planet. Pathfinders would go in first, clearing the drop zone and readying the site for the follow-on Aerospace Regiments. The Extrasolar Marine Regiments would come in next, starting with Alpha Company. The armored corps would come next, and the battlefield engineers, the logistics corps, and the command element. If all went well it would be smooth and seamless. An entire eradication of an alien species in under a hundred estimated hours. The planet would be ready for human colonization in a matter of months.

    "Man, I heard that there's more than a million warrior drones deployed on the surface right now just near the landing zone." Burgle muttered into the mike of his Mark IV Doughboy suit. It was hard to see his face with the visor down, but his face sounded apprehensive.

    "Where the hell did you here that?" Herne growled.

    "That's the scuttlebutt Corporal, the word on the Lance Corporal underground."

    "Near the landing zone? That doesn't make any damn sense, why the hell are we making a drop there then? We'll get surrounded and cut in half before the armor lands."

    "Won't we get any artillery support?"

    "Hell yeah, listen. Do you hear it? Missile launchers. The orbital bombardment phase has begun already. By the time we land the surface should be black from all the ash. It will continue until, whoa---"

    The ship lunged forward.

    "Change in course?"

    "The skipper is lining up the Annapolis with the equator, the aerospace fighters will be deployed soon, and then the Pathfinders. We'll be landing soon enough. Hoorah."

    "Man, if some bug tries to jump on me I'll get him good, I'll plunge my shank right into it's meso-thorax and pull out its heart."

    "Good motivation trooper, but you should have been paying more attention in bug anatomy class. Their hearts are in their abdomens, not their thorax, and they have more than one."

    "Oh yeah, that's right Corporal, I forgot that."

    "And Burge."

    "Yeah Corporal?"

    "Try to calm down, you're breathing real heavy and fogging up your visor. Looks like a sauna in there."



    The champion stormed through the core of the colony, vapid worker drones twitched and gave him way as he stomped through. His queen had summoned him, he would answer. He could almost smell her sweet abdominal nectar, his mandibles twittered in expectation of a taste, for a tasty libation from her heavenly orifice he would fight and die.

    His queen sat on a bloated bottom, some neonatal nymphs licked liberally at her hole as nursery drones collected more of the addictive nutrients. Towers of eggs were behind her, future warriors for the colony. The enemy was getting close now, the champion knew.

    "Warrior." She spoke.

    "Yes, my queen." He said and kneeled before her, bending each leg.

    "The colony is dying."

    "No my queen!"

    "I am dying. The time will come when I can lay no more eggs, and sweet nectar shall issue from my udder no more. The time has come for me to make my flight, the time has come for me to chose my king. Warrior."

    "Yes, my queen."


    "You are no mere warrior, you are my champion, you are a fertile male. You shall become my mate. Together, we shall take the tools of these aliens and turn them against them."

    "Yes, my queen, as you command."

    "We shall spread our seed throughout the stars and spawn new colonies."

    "Yes, my queen."

    "Warrior."

    "Yes."

    "Rise."


    He rose.

    "I have one last task for you. Come here, come here and kneel at my abdomen. Suckle and seal your fate as my new king and the savior of the colony. Mate with me and father the eggs of our future."

    The champion approached, and, kneeling, complied with the wishes of his queen.




    The drop shuttle hit the sands and the troopers dismounted by fire teams. First squad covered squads two and three as they leapfrogged to the rally point. Burge was limping, there was something wrong with his Mark IV, maybe a bad actuator.

    "You better keep up Burge, I don't wanna have to haul your ass back."

    "Very funny Corporal Herne. I'm fine, just a sticky motor."

    "Hold." The platoon commander ordered his men. His suit was detecting movement, the entire platoon sensed it. The commander gave his team the signal to be on the ready, they set up a hasty ambush and scanned the horizon.

    "The bugs are underground, they can sense vibration. Remember to keep your movements random, they will attack any rhythmic vibration." The commander said and shot some decoy pods from his launchers. The decoys would generate bogus noise for them, hopefully buy them some time. The seismic sensors detected an intense local tremor.

    "Standby." The commander said and leveled his weapon at the ready.

    "Don't shoot." A human voice said over the radio on the tactical frequency.

    "We're friendlies, 14th Pathfinders. We're coming out." The voice said and some smaller Mark II Doughboys stomped away from some cover.

    "There's lots of bugs beyond that ridge." The Pathfinder, a Staff Sergeant said.

    "Good." The Commander chuckled.

    "That's why we're here."

    "No, you don't understand, I mean a nest. Seismic resonators don't lie. There's gonnaa be a ton of them coming through that hole, they're coming to the surface. Good luck, we expect contact soon."

    "Good luck? Aren't you gonna stick around and join the fight?" Burge spat out.

    "No sir, Pathfinders are brave, not stupid. We've got a drop shuttle inbound. As soon as it comes we're headed back for the Annapolis."

    "Pussies." Burge muttered.

    "Now now Burge, there's no need for that." Herne said.

    "Well Staff Sergeant, If that's the summary of your report then got your ass back in the rear and tell the Skipper we're on point." The Commander said and lead his platoon towards the direction of the trembling.

    "First squad: prepare an arc of fire on the port flank. Second squad: do the same on the right. Third squad: take the rear. Weapons detail: cover our asses. Radio operator: you stay by my ide, I want you attached to my hip. We'll be overrun by these sons-of bitches in no time without some orbital bombardment support. You keep calling in fire support, accurate fire, and a case of beer is yours when we get back. Memento Mori men! Fall in."


    The Champion could see the light from his sun at the mouth of the hole. Behind him stirred thousands of warrior drones, the finest among a quarter of a million of the first line of defense. First would march out the shock drones, they would be cut down in droves. Following them would come the neonate warriors, young and foolish but brave and strong. They would use attrition and numbers to encroach, after them would come the older veteran drones, and the slow, heavy, juggernaut drones. In reserve the champion held back his secret weapon, his berserker drones. He would keep them at bay as long as he could, and hope that if and when they were unleashed that they would attack the aliens instead of their own kind. It was an insane wish, they could not be controlled. Once released, they would go in only one direction, forward, through any resistance.

    Strapped to his abdomen the champion held his cargo. The mission would be the most important, it could not fail.

    "Charge." The Champion clicked. No words of encouragement, no speeches of valor, none were needed. The warriors were born with all the valor they required, along with all the memories and skills of prior warrior generations. In addition to their built in weapons they shared the same lack of fear and immunity to pain, all that mattered was the colony, the queen.


    "Charge, kill the aliens." The Champion said again as thousands of warriors stormed towards the enemy. No mercy.


    Aboard the Annapolis General Moore nervously scratched at his wedding band as reports came to the war room from all over the aerospace theater. On the surface bug holes were being nuked as the bug armies were neutralized wholesale by orbital bombardments. As long as everyone kept to the game plan drawn up on Luna they could sterilize the planet and get rid of the pests in time for vacation leave on someplace nice along the way to Earth. Maybe the beaches of Sirius five.

    "Hey Skipper, you ever been to Sirius five?" The General asked.

    "Yes General, been there 'bout half a dozen times already, why?"

    "I was thinking about having a little shore leave there, me and the troopers. I hear the women are bronzed quite handsomely and that the waters are warm and blue. Maybe I can get some fishing done while I'm there, catch myself an alien critter."

    The Skipper chuckled.

    "The women there are covered in radiation suits when they're outdoors, the UV levels are unsafe. And the ozone levels are unsafe too, so you might have to wear a mask. The water is blue, from all the cyanobacteria, and the system is less than three hundred million years old. The first multicellular life didn't appear on Earth until after about three and a half billion years. I don't think you'll be catching very big critters there General."

    The General grimaced.

    "I suppose not. These God damned planets, just like the Goldilocks story, never a right one. Always too hot, too cold, too gassy. That's why we need this planet, when we get rid of every last one of these damn bugs we can put families there, pilgrims by God. Set up some stores and chain hotels, a decent place to park my keester on long deployments like these."

    "How much longer am I gonna have to keep my ships in low orbit General, the first drop shuttle should be back by now with elements of the Pathfinder Regiment."

    "Hold onto your horses Skipper, we're still ahead of schedule." The General said and eyed a time piece. The Skipper was right.

    "Damn it. Communications." The General said and walked over to a Communications officer.

    "Do we have any traffic from an inbound drop shuttles yet?"

    The Communications Officer had a frown, he had a hand up to his earpiece.

    "Sir, it's the 14th Pathfinders, they're---"

    "Gimme that damn ear piece son." General Moore said and snatched the device from the Communication man's ear.

    "This is General Moore, what the hell's going on down there trooper? Is that hive nuked yet or what?"

    "No sir, there's a---"

    "God damn it trooper, what the hell is your malfunction? Why---"

    "It was the bugs sir, they hijacked one of the drop shuttles."

    "They what?"

    "Yes sir, they're smart. One of them made it past the defensive perimeter the Marines set up, my guess is that it made an escape from the dark side, away from the task fleet. A probe on the far side confirmed a wormhole opening. We think the shuttle made it through."

    "Are you telling me that a damn bug is flying that shuttle?" The General screamed.

    "Please tell me that you did not just say that a filthy bug flew off with one of my shuttles." The Skipper growled.


    The mission was a success, a modest amount of the queen's sweet nectar intoxicated the aliens on the strange thing that fell from the sky. As the queen told him it came from a world like theirs, a world among many many others spread out among the galaxy like dew droplets on the ground on a cool morning.

    The champion gently nudged one of the eggs, a possible future queen, with a tarsal claw and hummed to it.

    "Soon young one, soon you shall inherit the galaxy. The hive that has spawned many shall live on through you and successive generations. Long may we live on, long may we spread among the stars. That the motes of dust clinging to them, uncounted and unnumbered as they are, may there be one among them yet that we may call home..."
     
  7. s.knight
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    s.knight Banned

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    One Coin Two-sides

    The air stank of hair gel and disinfectant. After twelve years Maxine had acclimatized to workplace sterility. She gazed into the mirror, chewing gum, practicing the cool look.
    A yummy lollipop gazed back.
    Yeah, she admitted to being a little buxom but she knew that guys prefer a bit of meat on the bone. And she admired her self-styled hair: bottle blond with streaks of pink, stretched back into a high ponytail, and a signature sweep of mousse stiffened locks across the forehead. She stood out from the crowd. That's all she wanted. Straight pencilled lines for eyebrows, bright pink eye shadow, long lashes, a nose crystal, and - instead of big gold hoops dangling from the ears - she sported big pink squares. A real doll. Perfection.

    Below the mirror, on the work counter, lived the tools of her job. Weird looking scissors, a variety of combs, a rack of trimmers and clippers and another with the blades. She noticed the pink spray-bottle standing amongst an assembly of drab looking shampoos, wax jars and tubes of lotion. The plastic bottle represented her, standing out from the rest.
    She swivelled on the hydraulic barbers chair, yawning, waiting for something to happen, a dull restlessness brought on by the lack of punters. A very slow day. She sprawled. Regarded Alison with a mischievous look, unsurprised to find her colleague perched on a stall, head in a six month old copy of Bella.
    Maxine secretly despised Alison.
    Too quiet, too mousy, hair too curly, lips too tight, clothes too frumpy, and those hands way too rough. Maxine looked to her own smooth hands, about to make a smug remark but her phone beeped. A text message! I'm gettin attention! she checked the inbox and let out a high pitch cackle.

    Alison, who would usually shy away from conversation, loved a juicy bit of gossip, and looked up from the magazine. ''What's so funny?''

    ''Oh my god my Andy. 'E knows 'ow to make ma day,'' maxine took a deep breath, ''e spotted this right stuck up cow down Pee-airs. Coated 'er right off. God I luv-im.''

    ''What he say?''

    ''Pointed 'er out as a posh call-gal.'' Maxine cackled again.
    Alison tightened her lips, hid the glee with a frown. ''That's a bit harsh ain't it.''

    Nah, ya don't understand, she deserves it like, she made us look proper stoopid. She thinks she's a cut above the rest, always sneering down.''

    ''What happened?'' Alison flicked a couple of pages, pretending not to be interested in Maxine.

    ''It goes back a few weeks. I gets to chattin with 'er down the Rantree. She seemed alrite at first, said she grew up on Crockwell. My patch. I didn't recognise 'er though. We gets chattin bout allsorts. She reckoned she wen out wid Paul Lovelock. I doubt it. I pulled 'im. 'E's gawjus.''

    ''Is that all?''

    ''Nah nah - wait, I ain't finished. It turns out she's ma cousin. Sort of ma cousin. By marriage.''

    ''Oh right, whats the deal there?''

    ''One of ma aunts - I got six of em - she ran off wid this gals daddy, just before she were born, back in the eighties. They ran off to Cyprus, got 'itched. But anyways, this gal, she gets to insisting I go to 'er party the nex week. 'oo am I to turn down a party? I love it, you know me.
    ''So me n Andy get to 'er swish place down Earlswood, I'm all glam'd up n ready to rave. But there ain't any pumpin trax, god I felt stoopid. All these stuck up do-gooders, all dressed prim n proper, all smart n smug, posh talk n long words, and there's me in ma lil pink miniskirt, stickin out like. I don't mind stickin out though, it's em snotty looks I can't stand, they just jealous. And it weren't even a party! a dinner party or sumfink - never in my life Al! I got it wrong, she tells me, o' you shoulda seen the daggers. She's right evil I tell ya.
    ''So I stay to prove a point. I ain't a pussy. We sit round the table like a buncha stiffs. Peeps chattin crap bout religion n politics. We 'ad fancy starters, three courses, the lot. 'Ad to listen to 'er bitch on bout 'ow 'ard it is to cook f'dinner-parties. 'Er place is swank, I'll give her that - she gotta blingin plasma screen.''

    ''Then what happened?''

    '''Old ya 'orses Al, I'm gettin to it. We finish puddin - gawjus choc gatto - my Andy sparks up a cig, like 'e always does. My days, you shoulda seen 'er squeak. She dashed that cig from 'is mouth n tells'im off like some kid. I weren't avin it. I weren't I tell ya, I flipped. I ain't gonna be treated like some pleb. I told 'er what's what, told 'er she shouldn't act all 'igh n mighty, 'specially wid 'er 'istree. Yeah, in front of all 'er pals I reminded 'er of 'er roots, 'er council estate roots. I was outa there before it turned ugly.''

    Alison nodded a slow rhythm, frowning as if unsatisfied. There must be something juicier. ''But why'd he say call girl though?''

    ''Ah, me n Shirley were chattin, gets to wonderin 'ow come a gal bought up on Brockwell ends up in a posh place down Earlswood. It don't make sense. And she's only twenny four. Then Andy came out with it, she's bein pimped.''


    Lucy stormed through Redhill Towncentre, a face like thunder, a frown that said 'how dare that bitch'. Long purposeful strides. Boot-heels clonk-clonked the paving. In a single movement she stepped around a woman and buggy. Onward angry steps. How dare that bitch. Moments earlier things had been going well. Lunching at Pierre's Cafe, with her new assistant, intent on building a rapport and goin through some details in a comfortable environment,
     
  8. DvnMrtn
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    DvnMrtn Contributing Member

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    The Trade-Off

    May 9, 2010
    The Trade-Off (2,602 words)

    Cam pressed his thumb into the buzzer, stepped back, and listened for the approaching sound of footsteps patter against marble floors. The house loomed three elegant stories above him, and Cam admired all the beautiful details of its construction. The house looked as though it were brand-new, although the architecture suggested it was an ancient Greek palace. Cam tried to guess how much it was worth, but laughed at the thought. It didn’t matter; he could never afford such a place. Through the thick doors Cam heard the approach of footsteps followed by the squeak and heavy thud of what sounded like a deadbolt the size of his arm.
    Standing there was a large burly man who let his eyes crawl over Cam before locking them on the black duffle bag that hung around his shoulder. The man gave Cam a large grin that although was warm, was also intimidating in its own way.
    “Welcome, Cam.” he said, as he gestured him inside. Cam hesitated only for a moment before entering the towering mansion. Cam had never seen this man before, and his eerie warm behaviour made Cam uncomfortable. The last time he was here, the guard who had ushered him in had been distinctly Italian man with long shaggy hair and an expensive looking suit. This man looked American, was bald, and wore a silk polo with jeans.
    “I don’t believe we’ve met before.” Cam said as he extended his hand. Without returning the gesture, the man said, “And I don’t foresee us meeting again. Please follow me, he’s waiting.”
    As Cam followed the man through the house, he couldn’t help but admire the tall ceilings, the numerous paintings and sculptures, or the spicy scent that drifted off the mahogany paneled walls. The burly man stopped in front of a set of doors and knocked. The knock echoed through the stretching hallway and suggested that the doors were extremely thick and heavy. The man turned, looked at a small camera that hung from the ceiling, and said, “Its Cam, he’s got it.” There was a pause before Cam heard a click and the guard pushed the door open with one of his large paws. He gave Cam one more creepy grin before saying, “The Don will see you now.”

    * * *
    Eric sunk deeply into the cushion of his seat and looked down at the packages of drugs that lay on the table in front of him.
    “Do you know what this is?” said a man from the other side of the desk. His tone suggested that he better know exactly what the packages were. It was a tone of pure business, and this man reeked of business. If the mansion that he lived in wasn’t enough evidence of this, the expression which seemed permanently etched into the stone of his face would have been enough. He had a chiseled jaw and a mouth that seemed incapable of smiling. Perched on top of high cheek bones, his eagle like eyes constantly watched and evaluated. They called him ‘The Don’.
    Eric picked up one of the packages and brought it a little closer for inspection.
    “Yes, it’s cocaine.” He said confidently as he placed the package back onto the table. The Don’s eyes dug into Eric before he said bluntly, “No.” Eric twitched in his seat a little, letting the silence that followed shame him. The Don pressed his gaze into the space in between Eric’s eyes and let time drag. Eric’s composure broke and leaning forward, hands clasped together he begged The Don, “Please don’t kill me. I will repay every cent. I promise!” The Don ignored him and continued,
    “What you’re looking at is not just cocaine. It’s the best cocaine money can buy-” The Don paused, and for a moment Eric thought he saw the crack of a smile flash on his face before he continued, “- and you’re going to sell it for me.”
    Becoming noticeably uncomfortable, Eric shifted in the thick cushioned seat gaining his composure back while picking his words carefully.
    “What I say next, is only because of the pure respect I have for you and your business. I don’t know anything about drugs. I’ve never sold drugs before. And it is only because I respect you and your business, that I think someone else would be better for this job.” Eric said nervously, taking a moment to shift some more in his seat before concluding, “It’s just, I don’t trust myself. I don’t want to fail you my Don.” Eric’s eyes welled up with tears.
    “Please. I will pay you back, I swear.” The Don leaned forward and pressed his eyes deeper into Eric.
    “It’s interesting that you mention trust Eric. Because in a business like mine, trust is all a man has. If you do not trust yourself, then how could I ever trust you? I would have no need for you.” The Don paused to make sure Eric understood what he meant and continued, “But I do trust you Eric, and I know you won’t fail.”

    * * *
    Cam leaned against a rusty old locker, nervously playing with a key as he waited in the change room, turning it over in his hands. He was lucky to still have hands he thought to himself as he evaluated his current situation. The knot in his stomach tightened and the inner conflict between what he wanted to do and what he must do raged. Oh how he wanted to run away, jump on a plane and never come back. But Cam knew that eventually they could, and would, find him.
    An elderly gentleman rounded the corner and opened a locker a few down from Cam’s. The old man had just come from the showers and began drying himself off while Cam continued to stare off into space.
    “You gay or something?” the old man snapped at Cam. Cam’s thought process abruptly ended and his focus shifted towards the old man.
    “You gonna’ just stand there and watch me change? You a fag or something?” the old man said angrily. Cam was taken off guard and didn’t know what to say, until he reminded himself of why he was here. Taking a step towards the old man he said, “What the **** did you just say to me?” The old man could see Cam’s anger, could sense violence, and without saying a word, wrapped his towel around his mid-section and shuffled his way out of the change room, still dripping wet.
    Cam felt bad for intimidating the old man but he had to get into character. Any minute, someone would walk into the change room with a bag full of drugs and demand money from him. Although Cam had never done anything like this before, he was quite certain that people who dealt drugs were dangerous and the last thing he wanted was to look like someone asking to be taken advantage of.
    Almost as if on cue, a man walked into the change room carrying a duffle bag exactly like the one Cam had locked in the locker beside him.

    * * *
    An old man shuffled past Eric as he entered the change room, looking around at the paint peeling off the concrete walls and at the rusty rows of lockers. The room stank of chlorine and was empty save for the man who looked like he had no business in a change room at all. Eric caught his gaze, and the two nodded in recognition. Puffing out his chest, Eric approached the man.
    The two looked at each other in what were the most unsure moments of both men’s lives. Neither seemed to know how to address the other. The man broke the awkward silence and asked, “What you got in that bag of yours?” Eric deepened his voice, and replied, “That depends on what you have.”
    “Oh right!” said the man as he turned around, and with shaky hands, opened one of the rusty lockers. The man took out an identical black duffle bag and handed it to Eric. Nodding towards Eric’s bag, the man said, “And yours.”
    Each man opened the others bag right then and there, inspecting that all contents were present.
    “Hey” the man said angrily. Eric looked up and saw a pair of eyes filled with tears of fear and anger staring him down.
    “I gave you forty-thousand. I need two kilos.”
    “It’s fifty-thousand for one.” Eric replied. He was afraid, who knew what this man would do for his drugs.
    “Look, I’ve been guaranteed that it’s the best stuff out there. It’s worth fifty-thousand.”
    The man grabbed Eric by the shirt collar and threw him up against a row of lockers, a handle digging itself into his back.
    “Listen mother ****er, I need two kilos. I need them. You don’t understand, I’m in a lot of trouble here. I ****ing need them.” Eric shoved the man off him, sending him backwards into his own set of lockers.
    “I don’t ****ing have two kilos.” Eric said. Silence filled the change room as the pair looked at each other, the reality of their situation slowly sinking in.

    * * *
    The pair of men stood not two arms lengths away from each other, unsure of what to do as they watched each other. Cam watched the drug dealer eyeing him up, and he knew that something was about to go down. Cam slid his hand backwards, steady now with the flow of adrenaline, and slowly tried to make a grab for the switch blade he had put in his back pocket. He was filled with a sense of relief that he had brought it along with him. ‘I knew it’ he thought to himself, ‘I knew he was going to try and **** me – ****ing drug dealer’. But before Cam could get the knife out from his back pocket, the drug dealer made a dive for his duffle bag.
    A fist coming out of nowhere hit Cam in the jaw, sounding more like a slap than a thud. In a slight daze Cam saw the man grab both duffle bags and make a sprint for the door.
    “Oh no you don’t!” Cam shouted as he jumped towards the drug dealer. Grabbing a hold of one of the duffle bags, he swung his weight to one side and sent the drug dealer tumbling into a wall. The duffle bags skid across the floor, and some of the money scattered into the air like confetti. Cam jumped on top of the man, mounted his torso, and began hitting him in the face. The drug dealer managed to get one of his hands free from under Cam’s groin and used it to shield his face. Neither of the two were big men, and Cam had never been into a fight before. As his punches bounced off his face, the drug dealer pleaded, “Please”. Cam popped him right in the nose, sending a thin trickle of blood pouring down the man’s upper lip.
    “You don’t-” he said. Cam threw another punch, but the drug dealer grabbed his wrist with his free hand.
    “Please, you don’t understand!” he yelled as the two wrestled, for control.
    “**** you, you no good drug dealer!” Cam yelled back. The man was stronger than he looked and was able to throw Cam off his midsection. The two rolled around pathetically for a moment before either was able to get up. The drug dealer rushed Cam, and pounced at him. The two slammed backwards into a set of lockers, rattling the whole row.
    And then it stopped. The two just looked at each other. Cam watched as the drug dealer’s eyes widened into disbelief, while a look of shock and terror swept over Cam’s face. In the fight, Cam had managed to get his switch blade loose, and looking down, he saw it lodged into the drug dealer’s chest. The drug dealer fell backwards and lay bleeding on the floor.
    “You…you ran into me!” Cam accused. Looking around the change room, Cam yelled at nobody, “He ran into me!”
    At that moment, the old man shuffled his way back into the change room, but stopped when he saw Cam standing bloody with the knife.
    “Oh my god!” the old man screamed. Throwing his hands into the air, his towel fell to the ground, and the old man ran naked out of the change room.
    With tears streaming down his cheeks, Cam picked up what money he could find, threw everything into one duffle bag and ran as fast and as hard as he could.

    * * *
    The Don sat behind a large oak desk, and motioned Cam to come in. As Cam approached, he noticed the shaggy haired Italian that he remembered from before standing in the corner. Before Cam was able to take a seat The Don said to him,
    “And what do you have for me here? Hmm?”
    Cam lowered himself into the cushioned seat and placed the duffle bag on the desk between them.
    “There was a problem. The guy didn’t have two kilo’s, but I was able to get you one kilo, and I was able to keep all the money you gave me.” Cam said as he unzipped the bag to show The Don what was inside.
    “See? It’s all there.” he pleaded.
    “And how did you go about getting one kilo for free?” The Don asked.
    “I ugh…” Cam’s voice trailed off.
    “You killed him?”
    Cam nodded silently, his head lowering in shame.
    “Yes.”
    “That’s wonderful! You just saved me the trouble!” he said enthusiastically. Cam looked up to see The Don smiling at him, his grin beamed from ear to ear. It seemed so unnatural on his hardened face.
    “What?” Cam asked.
    “His name was Eric, and he was in a situation just like yours Cam.”
    “But the drugs-” Cam sputtered, “The money!”
    The Don laughed, and it was a whole hearted laugh that caused him to lean backwards and grab his stomach in the process.
    “I don’t give a **** about your kilo of flour or your pocket change!” The Don managed to say between chuckles. Then, after only a moments notice, The Don became all business again. Leaning forward in his seat he let his eagle eyes dig themselves into Cam’s face.
    “You know what I do care about though?” he teased. Letting time drag he gave Cam a chance to answer. When only silence answered him, he continued, “No? It’s Respect. And when a man says he’s going to do something and doesn’t, do you know what that is Cam?”
    Cam’s eyes darted between The Don and the Italian who had inched his way calmly over to his side. Unable to think of anything to say, his mind whirred in confusion. The Don recognized this and continued.
    “It’s called disrespect Cam, and it’s a bitch. And you Cam, you ****ed me. You disrespected me when you failed to pay me back what was owed to me.”
    “Please, I never meant-” Cam started.
    “Shut up!” The Don shouted before continuing, “I don’t believe a damn word you say. You already ****ed me once Cam. And in a business like mine, trust is all a man has.”
    The Don turned and nodded at the Italian who stood motionless, awaiting his cue.
    “Trust is a trade-off Cam, and I just wanted you to know what it felt like to be on the **** end of the stick before I killed you.” he said. Giving him one last nod, The Don said calmly, “Goodbye Cam.”
     
  9. yellowm&M
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    yellowm&M Contributing Member Contributor

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    Coffee [2,606 words]

    The coffee cup in my hand is hot, but I barely notice. Instead my mind is drifting along with my eyes which flit restlessly from person to person inside the small coffee shop. A blast of cold air causes me to spin instantly in my chair to look at the door. However, it’s not them so I turn back around to my coffee. Absentmindedly I take a sip, but my mind is so preoccupied that I don’t even notice the taste. Under the table my leg is bouncing with nerves. I still can’t believe that she called me and that they are coming right now. I take another sip of my coffee right as a second blast of cold air reaches me from the door. I turn around and immediately choke on my drink. Standing in the open doorway is a tall brunette woman who is looking around the small coffee joint. Still coughing, I shoot to my feet as her eyes alight on me. She smiles widely and waves as she starts making her way towards me. I smile uncertainly and try to stop my coughing, drinking in this sight of her all the while. She looks just like she did all those years ago, a little older perhaps, but certainly as beautiful. The marked difference between now and then though, isn’t looks; it’s that I no longer feel the butterflies in my stomach every time she walks into my room, and neither does she; the nerves I feel now are something completely different. What was once intense love is now calm comfortable friendship.

    Walking next to her is a teenage boy who looks startlingly like her. Whereas half a second ago all I could see was her, now my eyes are riveted to him. He looks disgruntled, as if he had just stopped arguing with someone and is very obviously reluctant to come over. He doesn’t look up until he is right in front of me. But when he does I notice that his eyes are the same grey-green color of my own eyes, and despite his unhappy expression I swear I can detect a curiosity in them. The same curiosity to understand me that I’m sure is reflected in my own face.

    “Hi Rick.” Her voice causes my attention to jump back to her. We embrace quickly, nerves and curiosity still erupting in my stomach.

    “Hi Christina, nice to see you again.” I smile at her as we all lapse into awkward silence.

    ***

    My hands feel like frozen lumps on the ends of my arms. I blow on my fingers to try and warm them then I stuff them back in my jacket pockets before I continue speaking.

    “I don’t see what I have to meet him, mom. We’ve been doing just fine without him for my whole life.”

    “He’s not coming to live with us or anything. But, hun, you need to at least know him. I’m not enough for you anymore.”

    “What are you talking about? I don’t need anyone else!” Even as I say that, however, I feel an unpleasant sensation down in my gut that almost seems like it agrees with what she just said.

    “Thanks sweetie, but you’re growing up. You’re in high school now; you need more than just a single mom.”

    “But he left! He left before I was even born and he didn’t bother to see me after!”

    “You can’t put all the blame on him, Drew. We broke up before I knew about you and I was so angry after our breakup that I didn’t tell him about you until you were five.”

    “But he still didn’t do anything after he knew either.”

    “There was a lot of bitterness between us back that. Even five years later neither of us were really over it and we were both mad. He was mad that I hadn’t told him about you-which is understandable, but he also wasn’t ready for a child. I at least had had five years to become accustomed to the fact that I was a parent-he hadn’t had that. I was irrational and I got mad as well and it spiraled into me saying that I didn’t want him near you and him saying he didn’t want to be a father.” I start to give her a look, but she cuts me off, “I know what you’re going to say, but don’t go there. There was a lot of bad history between us and we both said angry things we didn’t mean. And whatever he might’ve said before, he does want to know you.”

    “Yeah, right.” I mumble as I shove my hands deeper into my pockets. She laughs and puts and arm around my shoulders, pulling m into her side.

    “He does want to meet you. At the very least be nice to him and try to make it work?” I attempt to speak, but she doesn’t let me, knowing what I’m going to say already. “Anyways this doesn’t mean anything is going to change. You’ll just have him your life after this. All of this will be good, trust me.” I want to disagree with her, but at that moment we walking to the small coffee shop. Instantly I’m enveloped in warm coffee-scented air-a welcome change from the bitter cold outside. I can sense my mom looking around for him, but I resolutely keep my eyes focused on the ground and only grudgingly follow her when she spots him. When we stop however, I can’t help but look up.

    “Hi Rick.”

    “Hi Christina, nice to see you again.” They give each other a quick hug while I study Rick. Despite my unwillingness to actually meet him, I’ve always been curious about the father I’ve never known and I’m unable to dispel that curiosity. He’s tall, and I realize that I’m practically his height and his eyes are the same grey-green color of mine. My mom has always told me that I got m eyes from him. I’m both slightly happy and irritated by this fact. I twitch my head, shaking my bangs over my face.

    An awkward silence encompasses us and my mom looks pointedly at me trying to get me to speak but I refuse. Finally she gives up the mute struggle and looks back at Rick.

    “As I’m sure you’ve guess, this is Drew; my-well our, son.” She knocks my hand gently from behind and I grudgingly raise it to shake his hand.

    “Hi” I mutter.

    “Hi” He grasps my hand and shakes hit, his voice sounding a little stunned. Another awkward silence prevails which I determinedly hold on to even though I can feel my mother’s irritation. Finally she speaks again as she hands me some cash.

    “Drew, would you go get me a coffee please? You can get yourself a drink too.”

    “Alright” I take the cash and head over to the counter.

    ***

    “Alright” I watch Drew walk over to the counter before turning back to Christina as we sit down at the table.

    “So, how’ve you been Rick?”

    “Uhh…good, good. The company’s been doing really well; I bought a house a few years back. I actually got married a couple of years ago too.”

    “Oh congratulations! That’s fantastic! What’s her name?” She smiles hugely at me from across the table and I smile back at her genuine pleasure for me. It feels wonderful to know that all the bitterness has faded.

    “Thanks. Her name is Emily. What about you? Did you-“

    “No, I didn’t get married. I’ve had a couple of serious boyfriends, but nothing else. It’s pretty much always been just Drew and I. It’s been good.” Her smile is content as she finishes speaking.

    “Well that’s good.” I pause uncertainly before continuing, “About Drew…is he really-“

    “He’s yours.” Her expression closes down slightly.”I wasn’t with anyone else around that time at all, and besides all you have to do is look at him to know he’s yours.” I glance over at Drew. She’s right, it’s very obvious-he’s basically my height, his eyes are the same color as mine, plus I can see the a hint of my features in his face and his hair falls across his eyes the same way mine did at his age. I knew Christina wasn’t lying; in fact I’ve never doubted for a second that Drew was my son since the day she first told me, but it’s also hard to truly believe I have a son when I’ve never even met him until now even though I’ve known about him for ten years. Besides, Emily wanted me to make sure because it has legal impacts as well.

    “Yeah, I know he is…still it’s just so hard to comprehend.”

    “I suppose I understand, after all I’ve been around him since birth and you’re only just meeting him.”

    “yeah…” We lapse into silence for a second, “Christina, it’s great to finally meet him and I really should’ve tried years ago…but why now? I’m sure you’ve done a fantastic job raising him, you don’t need me.”

    “But I do need you, Rick…or at least he does. He’s 15 by now; he needs a man in his life. He needs a father the most right now. Besides it’s not fair for you two to not be a part of each other’s lives. I can’t keep being selfish.” Her smile is a little watery and I reach across the table for her hand. “And no matter what he says, deep down I know he wants a father too. He loves me, but even he can’t keep telling himself that a single mom is enough.”

    “Well I want to be a part of him life…but I’m scared. I don’t know anything about being a father.” Her hand tightens around mine, warm and reassuring.

    “I was scared too…I’m still scared 15 years later. I don’t know if I’m a good mother or what I’m doing is right, but I do know that the best thing you can do is follow your gut and do what you think is best.” She gives me a smile which I return.

    ***

    Cash in hand, I step up to the counter and the smiling barista.

    “One small drip coffee and a java chip frappaccino please.”

    “Sure, anything else?”

    “No, that’s all.”

    “That will be $5.92 please.” I count out the cash and hand it over to her, noticing as I do so that she’s really pretty and close to my age. I cast her a smile and she blushes a little as she hands me my change. I walk over to where the drinks will come grinning. Then I catch a glimpse of my mom and Rick smiling and hold hands across the table. My grin instantly slides off my face. I decided a long time ago that I would never like Rick. He left my mom when she was pregnant and didn’t bother to come meet me when she told him that I existed. But even worse than that was that he broke her heart.

    My whole life it has been just my mom and I, and it’s been great. We’ve always made it just fine by ourselves without anyone else to help out. When it comes to my mom, I have been the only “man” in her life for a long time and ever since I was a little boy I’ve felt it my duty to protect and care for her. That is part of the reason I never wanted to know Rick-he shattered her heart when he left. Even though I wasn’t there, I saw the damage. For years afterwards it still hurt her. She didn’t talk about him much, but what she did the happy, optimistic person I knew so well changed into a somber, tearful woman. The change never lasted long, but those momentary switches scared me more than any horror movie could, and showed me the true extent of her heartbreak.

    The drinks come and I pick them up still caught up in my thoughts. I know my mom would never do something she didn’t think was good for me, but I don’t think Rick coming into my life and back into hers is going to help anybody. What if he breaks her heart all over again? Besides I don’t want Rick around because deep down inside me I know my mom is right when she says I need a father-figure, but I don’t want to admit that to her, and I especially don’t want to admit that to myself.

    Carefully I bring our drinks over to the table where Rick is still holding my mom’s hand.

    “Here’s your coffee mom.” I slide to drink to her, casually breaking their grip as I do so. My mom gives me a look however, telling me she knows exactly what I was doing. A little heat rises up in my cheeks but I give her a slightly defiant look back and she sighs. Slowly I take a sip of my own drink.

    ***

    “Here’s your coffee mom.” Drew walks back over to us drink in hand. Despite the glaring evidence, I still find it hard to believe he’s my son…and that I’m a father. Setting Christina’s drink down, he gently breaks our hands apart as he does so. The movement is casual, but I can tell it’s intentional. I wrap my hand around my own drink as Drew and Christina have a silent battle of looks. With a sigh she turns back to me and gives me an apologetic look. We all sit in awkward silence again until the scraping of Christina’s chair as she slides it back breaks the silence.

    “Drew, why don’t you sit here? I should give you and your d-Rick a chance to get to know each other.” She gestures towards the seat, and then steps back. I look up at Drew’s stubborn face and sigh knowing all of the millions of reasons he has to be angry with me. Then I glance over at Christina’s encouraging face. I’ve screwed up a lot in the past when I comes to Drew, and this is my chance to attempt to fix things. He has every reason to not want me around, but I decide right then that I’m going to try to fix things. I’m going to try at the very least for Christina’s sake so that she doesn’t have to run it alone anymore.

    ***

    “Drew, why don’t you sit here? I should give you and your d-Rick a chance to get to know each other.” I hear her stop herself from saying the word “dad” and it irritates me. I don’t want Rick to become “dad”. She gets out of her chair and waves towards it. I continue standing as she moves over to the side. Rick looks at me and I can see in his fact that he knows I’m angry at him, and he knows every reason why. He looks over at my mom and I look at her too. Her expression is hopeful and I suddenly realize how much me knowing Rick means to her. I realize how much she wants me to have a father, and how much she hopes things will work between us. I look back at him for a second and then sit down. Maybe I’m angry at him, and maybe I don’t want to know him, but my mom wants me to know Rick, and she’s right when she says I need a father. And I decide then that I’ll try to get to know him..for my mom.
     
  10. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry for the slight delay this week - voting and the new contest will be launched soon. Thanks.
     
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